Brisbane, Nov 21 (UNI) Facing flak from several quarters for his ''third world country'' remarks against India, Australian opener Matthew Hayden has insisted that meant no disrespect to the nation or its people.
Hayden had blamed Indian conditions, which according to him are typical of third world countries, for Australia's slow over rate during the recent Border-Gavaskar series.
However, the sturdy left-hander has denied he meant any disrespect and insisted he has high regard for a country which has emerged as the prime rivals for the world champions in recent times.
''The politics of cricket has gone mad,'' he said.
''One of the things I love the most about India, is that you walk around the back of the hotel, and there's a man who's selling peanuts on the street for one cent a month, and he holds his head so high, and is so proud, as if he was making two million dollars a month,'' Hayden told 'The Sydney Morning Herald'. ''It frustrates me that certain sections of humanity want to take someone like myself down, who is a really great admirer of the country, and who has really built his career on the back of the country in a very proud and honoured way.
''There is a large portion of India that is third world, that is below the poverty line. But from my experience, it is those people who I admire the most. They are the ones who send out the messages of love and passion and have that amazing enthusiasm for life. I greatly admire, and appreciate, all the wonderful sentiments they have conveyed to me over the years, and for anyone to suggest otherwise is way off the mark.'' He asserted that the fierce rivalry and onfield confrontations has helped players on both sides to put in that extra effort and has contributed towards ensuring a high level of competition.
''We've had our competitive spats, but I'm sure that's only enhanced the reputation of India. It's made them play better against me, and I've played better against them. I stand by what I said,'' Hayden stated.
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